The supraspinatus muscle is one of the four rotator cuff muscles surrounding the shoulder joint.

This muscle plays a crucial role in stabilizing the shoulder joint by holding the head of the humerus firmly within the shallow socket of the scapula. This stabilizing effect is vital for many arm movements and helps prevent dislocation of the shoulder joint.

Injuries to the supraspinatus, such as tears or tendinitis, are common, especially in sports that involve overhead motions or in repetitive use scenarios, and can significantly affect shoulder function and mobility.





  • Supraspinous fossa of scapula


  • Superior facet of greater tubercle of humerus


  • Initiates and assists deltoid in abduction of arm and acts with rotator cuff muscles
  • It abducts the arm from 0 to 15 degrees, when it is the main agonist, then assists deltoid to produce abduction beyond this range up to 90 degrees

Clinical Relevance

Supraspinatus Tendinopathy and Subacromial Impingement

Subacromial impingement syndrome (SAIS) is a condition that occurs when the rotator cuff tendons become inflamed and irritated as they pass through the subacromial space in the shoulder. This can lead to pain, weakness, and a reduced range of motion in the shoulder. 

~ Evidence-Based Exercises ~

According to an EMG study, the exercises that demonstrated significant muscle contractions of Supraspinatus are;

  • Pendant (Prone) Shoulder External Rotation
  • Full Can
  • Empty Can

Pendant Shoulder ER

Prone Shoulder ER

Full Can

Full Can

Empty Can

Empty Can

< Reference >

  • Keith L. Moore, Anne M. R. AgurArthur F. Dalley. Moore Clinically Oriented Anatomy 7th Edition, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013
  • Boettcher CE, Ginn KA, Cathers I. Which is the optimal exercise to strengthen supraspinatus? Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009;41(11):1979-1983. doi:1249/MSS.0b013e3181a740a7
  • Wattanaprakornkul D, Halaki M, Boettcher C, Cathers I, Ginn KA. A comprehensive analysis of muscle recruitment patterns during shoulder flexion: an electromyographic study. Clin Anat. 2011;24(5):619-626. doi:1002/ca.21123
  • Reinold MM, Macrina LC, Wilk KE, et al. Electromyographic analysis of the supraspinatus and deltoid muscles during 3 common rehabilitation exercises. J Athl Train. 2007;42(4):464-469.